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The Galloway Report: Experiencing October 9th at MTS Centre

by Hockey Manitoba  |  November 8, 2011 5:27 pm

Featuring NHL Linesman Ryan Galloway of Winnipeg, MB

Keep posted to The Ref Room for all of Ryan's updates this NHL season!

Previous Editions:

October 6th – Introduction

November 6, 2011:

There are certain games throughout an NHL official’s career that stand out. Obviously, working your first game is always the most amazing experience. To be able to share that special day with family and friends makes it even more memorable. First playoff games are also special. The sense of accomplishment to make it into the playoffs after years of work to get there is an awesome feeling.

Then there are games that although not milestones, stand out for other reasons. For the most part, the reasons these games are important lie within each individual. So it was, on October 9th, 2011, when the new incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets played their first regular season home game. When the announcement was made that the team had come back to Winnipeg, I knew this was a game that I wanted to be part of. On a classy move by the NHL Officiating Department, they assigned the three current NHL officials that hailed from Manitoba to work the game. Rob Martell, Vaughan Rody and I all got the assignment. Rounding out the team was referee Brad Meier from Saskatoon. Brad has Manitoba connections also, as for years he gained experience working many WHL games in Brandon.

I thought the way to approach this installment was for you, the reader, to not only hear my words, but also the words of my teammates that night. I felt it was important to share their thoughts and feelings also.

I asked Vaughan, Rob and Brad to put down in words what the night meant to them and am pleased to be able to share their thoughts with you.

First off, veteran referee Rob Martell, originally from Stonewall shares his thoughts:

I was in Winnipeg for the OSO School of Officiating this past June just after the news broke of the return of the NHL to Manitoba. It was very exciting around the city at this time even though the name of the new franchise was still being decided. Just being around the city and seeing the excitement in the eyes of the people around the Arena where the school was held was so nice to see. I remember growing up and following the Jets as I worked my way around the province "back in the day" seeing Jets jerseys everywhere. A lot of good memories of those days. One that I remember was playing Senior hockey in my teen years for the Stonewall Jets and one day someone called our house in Stonewall and asked my mom if she had a son who played for the Jets? She replied "Why yes I do" this person went on to say she had been listening to the "JETS" game on the radio and couldn't believe someone from Stonewall was playing for THE Jets! Apparently Robin Bartel on the radio sounds a lot like Rob Martell. Just the sense of community with the return of the team to Winnipeg was outstanding. Being selected to work the game was a great honor and being able to work with my fellow Manitobans was extra special. The dedication and sacrifice needed to be successful in officiating at any level is huge whether you travel around the country to work games or around the Province. I take great pride in being from Manitoba and to have risen through the ranks of officiating in what I knew as M.A.H.A. to the NHL. It was a great feeling of satisfaction to stand at Center Ice for the anthem prior to dropping the puck and usher in the New era of the NHL in Manitoba. Seeing the faces of people I worked with or I worked for as a young and upcoming official leading up to the game itself or after was very nice as I have been away from the Province for over twenty years. I look forward to seeing who the next great official to come out of the Province will be. If you follow the examples of great men like Ryan Galloway who has done so much for Hockey Manitoba over the years, or try and skate as well as Vaughan Rody young Manitoba officials will be successful at whatever level they end up working at in their officiating careers. I said to someone who had asked if I was coming back again to work, "yes the game vs. Washington some time in November" and they replied without hesitation "the 17th is that game" it shows how aware people are of what is going on with the new Jets. A lot of emotions involved in such a passionate game such as hockey and I was glad to share such a great event in the history of the game with 2 fellow Manitobans and another "Prairie" kid from Saskatchewan who grew up around the Old Jets as well. It was a night I will remember for a long time.

Saskatoon native and former fire fighter, referee Brad Meier recollected on the night:

On Sunday October 9th, I was fortunate enough to work the inaugural game of the "New Winnipeg Jets". To add to the experience, I was able to work with three NHL officials who all grew up in the Manitoba Hockey Association, notably the Winnipeg Association.

For me it was a wonderful experience. The excitement and pride that the City of Winnipeg showed for the return of "their team" was amazing. More importantly for me however was what the game meant to Rob Martell, Vaughan Rody and Ryan Galloway. To see what it meant to them to get an opportunity to work that first game in the city where they honed their skills as young amateur officials was very special. A day that I won't soon forget.

My partner on the lines that night, Vaughan Rody, wrote about what that night meant to him:

I consider it an Honor and a Privilege to work as an Official in the National Hockey League.

I believe that every game you are assigned is special.

None though has been more special to me than the assignment to work Winnipeg's Home opener against the Montreal Canadians.

You see Winnipeg is my Home, though I left 20 years ago to chase a dream that back then seemed so distant, I was hired 3 years after the Team left for Phoenix. I always wished and wondered what it would have been like to work an NHL game in the City I grew up in.

I used to attend many WHA and NHL games as a youngster, my parents made sacrifices so I would be able to watch my heroes skate around the rink. I recall many days buying the 7-11 seats that were discounted to a price we could afford. As I sat there and watched with whomever I was attending, I often dreamed of being out there, first as a player, then more realistically…. A LOT more realistically as an Official.

As I sat in the Dressing room and pulled on my sweater, I realized how Special this was…to work this game with my 3 TEAMMATES…… to represent everyone who I worked with and who helped me along the path of this journey……The Sacrifices my Parents made for me to be successful on this journey…..My Family for the sacrifices they make everyday for me to live this life….

I have 2 young boys at home, I tell them everyday, if you out work your opponent you will be successful. That Effort Equals Reward. That no matter what, you must believe in yourself if you want others to…Now I can add one more thing to the message and direction I try and instill at home in them…. Believe in your Dreams Boys because they come true….. I know because I lived one of mine on Sunday the 9th of Oct 2011.

For me, the night was a realization of my journey to the NHL coming full circle. When the original Jets left Winnipeg for the desert, I was one of the few people that immediately benefited. As soon as the NHL left and the IHL moved in to fill the void, I was hired to work as a linesman, giving me my first taste of professional hockey. As the IHL, and later the AHL, was a development league used by the NHL, I was fortunate to gain experience from referees and supervisors that came through for the Moose games. It also afforded me the chance to get on the “NHL radar”. Ultimately, my time working these games opened a door for me that I likely would not have had the chance to discover without the Jets leaving.

Stepping on the ice with my colleagues and the realization that this was a special night for all of us, made it truly a unique situation. Very rarely does an entire officiating team share a special night like this together. Earlier I mentioned that these nights are special mostly for personal reasons, and for us all to be a part of not only NHL history, but also Winnipeg and Manitoba history, will be one of those games that we will be able to fondly look back at for years to come.

My thanks to Vaughan, Brad and Rob for taking the time to help put into words what this night meant to each of them.

The one thing I came to realize many years ago, as officials we are never league champions and we never win trophies or cups. For us, our rewards are almost always intrinsic. That is, they are memories and accomplishments of assignments that are special to us. They are the realization of effort and overcoming enormous barriers in order to step on the ice in a “big game”.

To be part of history and to be able to share that with those closest to me is a career highlight that will rein high amongst my “big games”.

Ryan Galloway

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